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PRONTO! Bendigo

HIV testing in Bendigo has never been so easy with the arrival of PRONTO! Bendigo —offering free, rapid HIV testing for gay men and other men who have sex with men. Run by likeminded guys, PRONTO! Bendigo offers a different, less confronting testing experience.

At PRONTO! Bendigo, we offer free fingerprick tests for HIV which provide results in 15 minutes.

The rapid tests are efficient at detecting antibodies (which are present if you have HIV). Like lab based tests, rapid tests have a window period. The 'window period' is the period between exposure to HIV and the appearance of antibodies in your blood (your immune system's response).

Most people will produce antibodies to HIV within six weeks after exposure to the virus in sufficient quantities to be detected by a rapid test. This means that if you have had a very recent exposure to HIV, the rapid tests will not detect an infection. Some people can take longer to produce enough antibodies to be detected on the tests, up to 3 months, so at PRONTO! Bendigo we recommend testing again 3 months after your last instance of possible exposure. In fact, we recommend testing every three months anyhow – that way, it becomes a routine. It's one of the ways you can look after your sexual health and your sexual partners.

PRONTO! Bendigo is a partnership between VACountry, Bendigo Community Health Services (BCHS) and the Burnet Institute.

The clinic runs on Thursday afternoons until 7pm every fortnight at:

BCHS
171 Hargreaves Street
Bendigo 

What should I expect?
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When you arrive for your appointment, you simply complete a registration form and a brief survey on a tablet. This is for your first visit only. Then, take a seat and complete a questionnaire until your test facilitator comes for you. Your test facilitator will provide you with information on rapid HIV and STI testing at PRONTO! Bendigo. They'll then proceed to perform the tests, if appropriate.

While the rapid test is working, your test facilitator will have a conversation with you about your risk for HIV, syphilis, and other sexually transmitted infections. You’ll get the result of your rapid HIV test after ten minutes and your STI test results within 5-7 days. We aim to make the appointments no longer than 30 minutes. This way, you can be in and out in a flash!

The team works very closely with the male nurse practitioner at Bendigo Community Health Services. If you need STI treatment or have symptoms, we can book you in on the night to see him. Follow up for positive results will be completed by the nurse practitioner in consultation with the peer test facilaitor.

Who are the peer test facilitators?
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Our test facilaitors are all gay or bi men, here because they love the work! They are not doctors or nurses, but they have all been extensively trained to perform rapid HIV tests and STI screens and are supported by the team at BCHS. Our staff are able to answer questions you might have about your sexual health in a non-judgemental fashion. We will also be able to help with referral to other services if required.

What are the possible results of a rapid HIV test?
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There are one of three possible results that you could get from a Rapid HIV test:

  • Non-reactive – HIV antibodies were not detected in the blood sample. It’s important to note that if you have had a risk  in the 'window period' you should re-test again in 3 months.
  • Reactive –  This result is highly likely to indicate the presence of HIV antibodies in your blood. This result is preliminary and needs to be confirmed with a blood test from a vein in your arm which is sent to the lab. This is because very occasionally (about one in two hundred) the reactive result is false. The laboratory results will be available within a week.
  • Invalid – there is a possibility that the rapid test may not work. In this situation you will be offered a repeat rapid test if time permits or as soon as possible thereafter.

How do I book into PRONTO! Bendigo?
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The clinic runs on Thursday afternoons until 7pm every fortnight at BCHS 171 Hargreaves Street, Bendigo. To book into the clinic phone 03 5448 1600. If you have any other questions please contact the peer worker at VACountry on 0437 004 680 who will happily talk you through the process.

Over 5,500 people have used PRONTO! in Melbourne and surveys have indicated almost unanimous satisfaction with the experience, the staff and the environment. Our PRONTO! Bendigo peer has been trained alongside the Melbourne staff and will work close with the nurse practitioner at Bendigo Community Health Services.

PRONTO! Bendigo"

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